So I got my fantasy tales mixed up. Can you blame me? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good, epic fantasy flick as much as anyone else, but it seems that the more I watch, the more they get jumbled up. A prime example? J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy and C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. Just a brief list here. Both have the seemingly most powerful ally not as the protagonist but in a supporting roll in which they duck in and out of the story itself (Gandalf, Aslan). Not only that, but each sacrifices their life for the good of the company, only to have a sort of rebirth (although let’s not forget that Gandalf makes his much later in another book in the trilogy while Aslan hardly stays dead long at all). Both have a character playing the roll of the not-quite-yet King (Aragorn, Peter Pevensie). Both have a young character who starts fragile but grows in strength and respect (Frodo, Lucy Pevensie). And both feature a betrayel by a close member of the group foro what he believed to be for the better good (Boromir, Edmund Pevensie). I guess if you wanted to include all four Pevensies you could say that both also have a pretty kickin’ archer as one of the central figures (Legolas, Susan).
If you are one of the people who simply watched the cinematics without reading the actual novels first, there’s a good chance you either already thought about this or now agree with me. But let’s take a step back and remember that both WERE, in fact, novels in their natural state. Not to sound cliché, but the books simply are better in this case. While a producer in a movie adaptation does have some leighway for creative liscense, if he or she exercises too much the risk of straying too far arises. With this in mind, it is best when comparing the substance to use the medium in which the substance first appeared. I was fortunate to be able to read both series before they were put to film, and I can honestly say that the similarities are far less prominent in reading. I can think of a couple reasons for this, the first being the aforementioned artistic liscense. Any artistic liscense a producer has/uses is far, far, far inferior to the one who actually WROTE the story. Secondly, the movies are but a few hours in time while the books may take days or even weeks to read all the way through. This condensation, while necessary for cinematic presentation, all but eliminates the subtle, unique diction styles of the author, the ephasis put on certain parts of the scenery and the list just goes on. In conclusion, The Lord of the Rings and the Narnia movies are fine movies and some of the best renditions of novels on the big screen to date. But to really see a separation in style and substance, one must turn to the books themselves.